Dr Catherine Ball, head of URS Australia’s regional unmanned aerial systems (UAS), has been recognised as one of the country’s most influential young business leaders.
Dr Ball was named one of six winners in The Financial Review BOSS Magazine Young Executive of the Year Awards, and is the only winner from the professional technical services field.
Specialising in the use of UAS technologies to collect and analyse environmental and engineering data for sectors including oil & gas, mining and infrastructure, Dr Ball’s leadership style, innovative thinking and ability to work efficiently under pressure impressed the judging panel.
Speaking of her specialisation in UAS, Dr Ball said: “The benefits of unmanned aerial systems over traditional methods are many – they increase access to vast and treacherous areas of land and water previously out of bounds for traditional aerial data capture, while facilitating the ability to access those areas more readily and cost-effectively.
“Globally, URS has more than 25 years of UAS experience to draw on, including operations with the US military. In Australia, URS draws on both its technical and scientific knowledge in the delivery of UAS applications, through our combined expertise in data management, environmental management and engineering.
“In Australia, the majority of commercial UAS usage to date has been in the resources sector, as well as in emergency services. Essentially, however, UAS technologies have the potential to transform any sector with heavy monitoring requirements and vast and remote areas of operation. Applications range from mapping and modelling, environmental assessments and monitoring, management of infrastructure like roads, rail, ports and assets like pipelines and well fields, calculating stockpiles by volume, through to monitoring livestock or native animal populations or even search and rescue.
“Australia is likely to lead the world in many areas of commercial application of UAS. As a growing field, there is likely scope for job creation and the development of intellectual property that could be transferred to other sectors and regions.”
URS Australia managing director Bob McGowan congratulated Dr Ball on the award and her contribution to URS and the broader business community.
“Dr Ball was instrumental in establishing URS’s UAS service capability in Australia, and has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities,” Mr McGowan said.
“The pioneering work she is doing to help Australian organisations realise the data quality, safety, time and cost benefits of using UAS technologies is truly commendable.”
The 2015 Young Executive of the Year Awards attracted 100 entrants, with the winners also including individuals from the retail trade, superannuation, service and gaming sectors.